Category: Prayer


We come to God in prayer for a variety of reasons—to worship Him, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask for things for ourselves, and/or to pray for the needs of others. The Hebrew and Greek words most often translated “supplication” in the Bible mean literally “a request or petition,” so a prayer of supplication is asking God for something. Unlike the prayer of petition, which is praying on behalf of others, the prayer of supplication is generally a request for the person praying.

The Bible includes many prayers of supplication. Numerous examples are found in the Psalms. David’s psalms are filled with supplication for mercy in Psalm 4:1, for leading in Psalm 5:8, for deliverance in Psalm 6:4, for salvation from persecution in Psalm 7:1, and so on. When Daniel learned that King Darius had issued an edict prohibiting prayer to any god but the king, Daniel continued to pray to God with prayers of thanksgiving as well as prayers of supplication for His help in this dire situation.

In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to ask for our daily bread in Matthew 6:11, which falls into the category of a prayer of supplication. In addition, in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches us not to give up praying for what we need. James says that: on the one hand we don’t receive because we don’t ask (James 4:2). On the other hand, we ask and don’t receive because we are thinking only of our fleshly desires (James 4:3). Perhaps the best way to approach supplications is to ask God in all honesty as children talking to their kind-hearted Father, but ending with “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:39), in full surrender to His will.

After describing the need to take up the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17), the apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians (and us) to remain alert and to pray in the Spirit, “making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Clearly, prayers of supplication are part of the spiritual battle all Christians are engaged in. Paul further exhorts the Philippian church to relieve their anxieties by remaining faithful in prayer, especially prayers of thanksgiving and supplication. This, he concludes, is the formula for ensuring that “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Here we see another crucial aspect of the prayer of supplication—the necessity of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who belong to Christ also have the indwelling Holy Spirit who intercedes on our behalf. Because we often don’t know what or how to pray when we approach God, the Spirit intercedes and prays for us, interpreting our supplications so that, when we are overwhelmed by trials and the cares of life, He comes alongside to lend assistance with our prayers of supplication as He sustains us before the throne of grace (Romans 8:26).

All prayer should be directed to our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that we can pray to one or all three, because all three are one. To the Father we pray with the psalmist, “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray” (Psalm 5:2). To the Lord Jesus, we pray as to the Father because they are equal. Prayer to one member of the Trinity is prayer to all. Stephen, as he was being martyred, prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). We are also to pray in the name of Christ. Paul exhorted the Ephesian believers to always give “thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Jesus assured His disciples that whatever they asked in His name—meaning in His will—would be granted (John 15:16; 16:23). Similarly, we are told to pray to the Holy Spirit and in His power. The Spirit helps us to pray, even when we do not know how or what to ask for (Romans 8:26; Jude 20). Perhaps the best way to understand the role of the Trinity in prayer is that we pray to the Father, through (or in the name of) the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. All three are active participants in the believer’s prayer.

Equally important is whom we are not to pray to. Some non-Christian religions encourage their adherents to pray to a pantheon of gods, dead relatives, saints, and spirits. Roman Catholics are taught to pray to Mary and various saints. Such prayers are not scriptural and are, in fact, an insult to our heavenly Father. To understand why, we need only look at the nature of prayer. Prayer has several elements, and if we look at just two of them—praise and thanksgiving—we can see that prayer is, at its very core, worship. When we praise God, we are worshipping Him for His attributes and His work in our lives. When we offer prayers of thanksgiving, we are worshipping His goodness, mercy, and loving-kindness to us. Worship gives glory to God, the only One who deserves to be glorified. The problem with praying to anyone other than God is that He will not share His glory. In fact, praying to anyone or anything other than God is idolatry. “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

Other elements of prayer such as repentance, confession, and petition are also forms of worship. We repent knowing that God is a forgiving and loving God and He has provided a means of forgiveness in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. We confess our sins because we know “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) and we worship Him for it. We come to Him with our petitions and intercessions because we know He loves us and hears us, and we worship Him for His mercy and kindness in being willing to hear and answer. When we consider all this, it is easy to see that praying to someone other than our triune God is unthinkable because prayer is a form of worship, and worship is reserved for God and God alone. Whom are we to pray to? The answer is God. Praying to God, and God alone, is far more important than to which Person of the Trinity we address our prayers.

Prayer beads, sometimes called rosary beads, are used in the practice of meditation and prayer. Prayers are repeated a number of times corresponding with the number of beads. Prayer or rosary beads have traditionally been associated with Catholicism, but the use of prayer beads is widespread, with many religious traditions incorporating them.

The basic rosary is made up of 59 beads linked together in a shape that looks like a necklace. Each of the beads on the rosary is intended to have a prayer said while holding the individual bead. Of these beads, 53 are for “Hail Mary’s” to be said on them. The other six are intended for “Our Fathers.” These beads provide a physical method of keeping count of the prayers as the fingers are moved along the beads as the prayers are recited.

The history of the rosary in Christian circles has been traced back to the Crusades. It is thought by historians that the Crusaders had adopted this practice from the Arabs, who, in turn, copied the observance of using beads from India. Recent archeological findings reveal that the ancient Ephesians made use of such beads in their worship of Diana, also known as Artemis, whose temple was one of the seven wonders of the world (Acts 19:24-41).

Prayer beads are also used by Roman Catholics to help the practitioner keep track of some 180 prayers which make up the rosary. Examples of such prayers are Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria. The practice of the rosary is based on the assumption that repeating these prayers over and over enables the petitioner to secure merit or favor from God in order to escape from the punishment of the fires of purgatory.

The use of prayer beads is not scriptural. Jesus Himself chastised the religious leaders of His time for repeating their prayers over and over. In fact, He told His disciples not to emulate them by using “vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Prayers are not to be merely recited or repeated mindlessly as though they are automatic formulas. Many who use prayer beads today claim that the rosary helps them take the focus off themselves and onto Christ, but the question is really one of the efficacy of repeating the same phrases over and over in a mantra-like manner.

Prayer is an incredible privilege for the Christian, as we are invited by the Creator of the universe to come “boldly” into His presence (Hebrews 4:16) and communicate with Him. Prayer is the means by which we praise Him, adore Him, give thanks to Him, submit to Him, and bring before Him petitions for ourselves and intercessions for others. It’s hard to see how that intimate communion with Him is enhanced by repeating simple prayers over and over again via prayer beads.

Quite simply, for followers of Jesus Christ prayer is the best way to communicate with God. Prayer is the vehicle for daily dialog with the One who created us. The importance of daily communication through prayer cannot be overestimated. It is so important that it is mentioned over 250 times in Scripture. So why is daily prayer so important? First, daily prayer gives us an opportunity to share all aspects of our lives with God. Second, daily prayer gives us the chance to express our gratitude for the things He provides. Third, daily prayer provides the platform for confessing our sin and asking for help in overcoming that sin. Fourth, daily prayer is an act of worship and obedience. And finally, daily prayer is a way to acknowledge who is really in control of our lives. Let’s take a look at each of these important reasons in a little more detail.

Daily prayer gives us an opportunity to share all aspects of one’s life with God. Life’s circumstances change on a daily basis. In fact, things can go from good to bad to worse in a very short time. God calls us to bring our concerns to Him for disposition and potential blessing. He also calls us to share our joys and triumphs with Him. In fact, Jeremiah 33:3 states, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” God wants us to call on Him so that He can answer our prayers. He also wants to share with us incredible blessings that we might otherwise have missed had we not reached out to Him through prayer. And finally, James 4:8 tells us to “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” God wants us to be close to Him at all times.

Daily prayer gives us the chance to express gratitude for the things in life that He provides. It is no secret that we must give thanks to the Lord for all the things that He provides and all of the things He does on our behalf. His goodness and lovingkindness to us should be recognized on a daily basis. In 1 Chronicles 16:34, we are commanded to “give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” The psalmist tells us in Psalm 9:1, “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.” We pray on a daily basis to acknowledge His faithfulness and His abundant provision in our daily lives.

Daily prayer provides the platform for confessing our sin and asking for help repenting of that sin. Let’s face it, we all sin daily whether we know it or not. So as followers of Jesus Christ, what must we do? Scripture makes it very clear: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’— and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Tell God what He already knows and do it on a daily basis. Daily prayer time is a great place to unburden one’s self from the debilitating effects of sin. So often Christians walk around with unconfessed sin that hinders our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, when we should humbly submit ourselves and ask for forgiveness in prayer. Another important element of daily prayer is asking God for the strength to repent of our sins. Only God can help us turn from our sins, and, for this to be so, He needs to hear our plea to repent.

Daily prayer is an act of worship and obedience. Perhaps no other verse better summarizes why we should pray on a daily basis than 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s God’s will for His children to rejoice in Him, to pray to Him and give thanks to Him. To pray without ceasing simply means that we should make prayer a regular habit and never stop doing so. Prayer also is an act of worship because by praying to Him we are showing Him how much we adore Him. Daily prayer is also an act of obedience that brings joy to the Lord to see His children following His commands.

Daily prayer is a way to acknowledge who is really in control of our lives. As Christians, we know who is really in control. God is sovereign. Nothing happens without God knowing about it (Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:17). Because He is sovereign over all, He deserves our worship and praise. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11). God is our great King and as such He controls every aspect of our lives. Each day we should acknowledge His proper place in our lives humbly and with a reverence reserved for such a great and awesome King.

Finally, prayer is something that we all should want to do on a daily basis. Yet for many Christians it can be a challenge to humble one’s self in daily prayer. For those who have been walking with the Lord for many years, daily prayer may become stale and lacking in proper conviction or reverence. Whether one is a new believer or an established one, prayer should always be considered as THE best way to speak to God. Imagine not speaking to a loved one or a close friend. How long would the relationship last? Daily prayer with God is daily fellowship with our heavenly Father. It is truly amazing that God would want to have fellowship with us at all. In fact, the psalmist asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4). Daily prayer is a good way to understand this incredible truth and the marvelous privilege God has given us.

Speaking of Jesus, the writer to the Hebrews says, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). This verse (and others like it) tells us that although Christ’s work to secure the salvation of the elect was completed on the cross, as evidenced by His cry “It is finished!” (John 19:30), His care for His redeemed children will never be finished.

Jesus did not go to heaven after His earthly ministry and ‘take a break’ from His role as eternal Shepherd to His people. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10 emphasis added). If when humble, despised, dying, and dead, He had the power to accomplish so great a work as reconciling us to God, how much more may we expect that He will be able to keep us now that He is a living, exalted, and triumphant Redeemer, raised to life and interceding on our behalf before the throne (Romans 8:34). Clearly Jesus is still very active on our behalf in heaven.

After Jesus ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 1:9; Colossians 3:1), He returned to the glory He had before His incarnation (John 17:5) to carry on His role of King of kings and Lord of lords—His eternal role as the second Person of the triune God. While this old earth continues to be “won” for Christ, Jesus is the Advocate for Christians, meaning He is our great Defender. This is the intercessory role He currently fulfills for those who are His (1 John 2:1). Jesus is always pleading our case before the Father, like a defense lawyer on our behalf.

Jesus is interceding for us while Satan (whose name means “accuser”) is doing that very thing, accusing us, pointing out our sins and frailties before God, just as he did with Job (Job 1:6-12). But the accusations fall upon deaf ears in heaven, because Jesus’ work on the cross completely paid our sin debt in full; therefore, God always sees in His children the perfect righteousness of Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, His righteousness (perfect holiness) was imputed to us, while our sin was imputed to Him at His death. This is the great exchange Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:21. That took away forever our sinful state before God, so God can accept us as blameless before Him.

Finally, it is important to understand that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. No one else—not Mary, not any previous Christian saints, not angels—has the power to intercede for us before the throne of the Almighty. Christ alone mediates and intercedes between God and man. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

First of all, let’s define imprecatory prayer. To imprecate means “to invoke  evil upon or curse” one’s enemies. King David, the psalmist most associated with  imprecatory verses such as Psalm 55:1569:28, and 109:8, often used phrases like, “may their path be dark  and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them” (Psalm 35:6) and “O God, break the teeth in their mouths;  tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!” (Psalm 58:6).

Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 109, and 139 were written by David to ask  God to bring judgment upon his enemies. (The other two imprecatory psalms, 79  and 137, were written by Asaph and an unknown psalmist.) These prayers were  written not so much to exact revenge upon one’s enemies, but rather to emphasize  God’s abhorrence of evil, His sovereignty over all mankind, and His divine  protection of His chosen people. Many of these prayers were prophetic and could  be seen taking place later in the New Testament in actual historical events.

When David prayed for God to shatter the teeth of his enemies, likening  them to young lions pursuing him to his death, he was making the point that God  is holy, righteous, and just, and He will ultimately judge the wicked for the  evil they do. Jesus quoted some of the imprecatory psalms during His earthly  ministry. In John 15:25,  Jesus quotes Psalm 35:19 and 69:4, and  Paul did so as well in Romans  11:9-10, which is a quote of Psalm  69:22-23. Since Jesus and Paul quoted verses from these imprecatory psalms,  it proves those psalms were inspired by God and removes all doubt that they were  sinful or simply selfish prayers of revenge.

Using imprecatory prayers  for our circumstances today is unjustifiable, as it would require taking these  prayers out of context. In the New Testament, Jesus exhorts us to pray for our  enemies (Matthew  5:44-48; Luke  6:27-38), but praying for their death or for bad things to happen to them  isn’t what He meant. Instead, we are to pray for their salvation first and  foremost, and then for God’s will to be done. There’s no greater blessing than a  personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that’s what Jesus means by praying  for and blessing those who curse us.

Praying in that manner allows God  to work in our own lives to soften our hearts toward our enemies so that we’ll  have compassion on them for their eternal destiny, and to remove bitterness and  anger from our hearts. Praying for God’s will to be done means we agree with God  and are submitting ourselves to His divine sovereignty, despite not always  understanding perfectly what He’s doing in a particular situation. And it means  we have given up the idea that we know best and instead are now relying on and  trusting in God to work His will. If a personal wrong has truly been done to us,  we seek God in prayer about it, and then leave room for God’s judgment and trust  Him to do what is best. That is the way to be at peace with God and all men (Romans 12:17-21).

2 Chronicles 20:1-18

Someone once asked me if I had ever heard myself pray. Having never done this, I decided to record my voice as I prayed about a matter of deep concern. After listening to the recording, I thought, God, I don’t think I would answer that prayer either. It was filled with negative descriptions of how bad the situation was and how “down in the dumps” I felt.

After suddenly encountering a fearful situation, Jehoshaphat chose a different approach: he sought the Lord through God-centered prayer. Instead of coming to the Father with a “woe is me” attitude, he began by focusing on the Lord’s power and sovereignty (v. 6), His past faithfulness to Judah (vv. 7-8), and His promise to hear and deliver them (v. 9). Only after strengthening his faith through these reminders of God’s adequacy did he make his petitions (vv. 10-12).

He ended his prayer with the words “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (v. 12). There is great wisdom in waiting for the Lord’s direction while keeping our focus on Him. Not only does this strengthen our faith, but it also enables us to see His answer. Eyes fixed on the impossibility of the situation rarely discern God’s guidance and intervention on our behalf.

In prayer, we choose to either magnify the Lord or our difficulty. Are you concentrating on the faithfulness of almighty God or your overpowering problem and negative feelings? Let’s keep our eyes on Him and wait with complete confidence until we see the great things He will do for us.

Many people ask, “Is there a prayer I can pray that will guarantee my  salvation?” It is important to remember that salvation is not received by  reciting a prayer or uttering certain words. The Bible nowhere records a  person’s receiving salvation by a prayer. Saying a prayer is not the biblical  way of salvation.

The biblical method of salvation is faith in Jesus  Christ. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that  whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Salvation is  gained by faith (Ephesians  2:8), by receiving Jesus as Savior (John 1:12),  and by fully trusting Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), not by reciting a  prayer.

The biblical message of salvation is simple and clear and  amazing at the same time. We have all committed sin against God (Romans 3:23). Other than Jesus Christ, there is no one  who has lived an entire life without sinning (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Because of our sin, we have earned  judgment from God (Romans  6:23), and that judgment is physical death followed by spiritual death.  Because of our sin and its deserved punishment, there is nothing we can do on  our own to make ourselves right with God. As a result of His love for us, God  became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life  and always taught the truth. However, humanity rejected Jesus and put Him to  death by crucifying Him. Through that horrible act, though, Jesus died in our  place. Jesus took the burden and judgment of sin on Himself, and He died in our  place (2  Corinthians 5:21). Jesus was then resurrected (1 Corinthians 15), proving  that His payment for sin was sufficient and that He had overcome sin and death.  As a result of Jesus’ sacrifice, God offers us salvation as a gift. God calls us  all to change our minds about Jesus (Acts 17:30)  and to receive Him as the full payment of our sins (1 John 2:2).  Salvation is gained by receiving the gift God offers us, not by praying a  prayer.

Now, that does not mean prayer cannot be involved in receiving  salvation. If you understand the gospel, believe it to be true, and have  accepted Jesus as your salvation, it is good and appropriate to express that  faith to God in prayer. Communicating with God through prayer can be a way to  progress from accepting facts about Jesus to fully trusting in Him as Savior.  Prayer can be connected to the act of placing your faith in Jesus alone for  salvation.

Again, though, it is crucially important that you do not base  your salvation on having said a prayer. Reciting a prayer cannot save you! If  you want to receive the salvation that is available through Jesus, place your  faith in Him. Fully trust His death as the sufficient sacrifice for your sins.  Completely rely on Him alone as your Savior. That is the biblical method of  salvation. If you have received Jesus as your Savior, by all means, say a prayer  to God. Tell God how thankful you are for Jesus. Offer praise to God for His  love and sacrifice. Thank Jesus for dying for your sins and providing salvation  for you. That is the biblical connection between salvation and prayer.

2 Chronicles 20:1-3

During the reign of Jehoshaphat, a vast army assembled to attack the nation of Judah. His response to the situation can guide us in handling our own crises.

The Bible records that the king “turned his attention to seek the Lord” in prayer (v. 3). Likewise, when we face hardship, our best response is to cry out to our heavenly Father. As God’s children, we can be certain that He loves us and cares about the details of our lives. Through the cross, He established a new covenant for those who place their trust in the Lord Jesus (Luke 22:20)—He agreed to forgive our sins, adopt us into His family, and watch over us. This salvation does not depend upon our good actions but upon the completed work of Jesus, who died in our place (Eph. 2:8). God also sent His Spirit to live in us as proof of our salvation and to be ever-present with us. He is interested in every aspect of our lives and promises to hear our prayers.

Jehoshaphat was ready for this crisis because he had developed the habit of seeking the Lord in various situations (2 Chron. 19:3). If we want to be prepared for the unexpected, then we must discipline ourselves to seek God every day, acknowledging His Lordship and our dependence upon Him.

By examining our habits and thought life, we can know whether our attention is on the Lord or other things. If we start our day thinking about Him instead of our own plans, and regularly read and apply scripture, then we demonstrate a heart that is pursuing Him.

Many people believe answered prayer is God granting a prayer request that is offered to Him. If a prayer request is not granted, it is understood as an “unanswered” prayer. However, this is an incorrect understanding of prayer. God answers every prayer that is lifted to Him. Sometimes God answers “no” or “wait.” God only promises to grant our prayers when we ask according to His will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
What does it mean to pray according to God’s will? Praying according to God’s will is praying for things that honor and glorify God and/or praying for what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be. If we pray for something that is not honoring to God or not God’s will for our lives, God will not give what we ask for. How can we know what God’s will is? God promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it. James 1:5 proclaims, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” A good place to start is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24, which outlines many things that are God’s will for us. The better we understand God’s Word, the better we will know what to pray for (John 15:7). The better we know what to pray for, the more often God will answer “yes” to our requests.